At last Don Nelson passed Lenny Wilkens for first all-time on the
list of the NBA’s winningest coaches when “his” Warriors defeated the
Minnesota Timberwolves on April 7, 2010, achieving his 1,333rd career
win. Besides this highlight, the Warriors have nothing positive to show
from last season.
Once again, they were by far the league’s fastest paced team on the
court, but their offensive efficiency was far from belonging to the top
and with their notorious small ball play, they were completely
outmuscled and outrebounded by their opponents through the regular
Their rebound margin average was a league low - 9.66 rebounds per game –
it means that the Warriors were outrebounded by almost 10 boards in
every single game in average during the regular season! That’s insane!
In fact during this Nelson’ tenure in Golden State, the Warriors were
always an awful rebounding team:
09-10 30th -9.66
08-09 30th -5.06
07-08 29th -3.85
06-07 30th -5.00
Midway the season, they sent one of their best players Stephen
Jackson to Charlotte for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic in another
bizarre trade for the Warriors.
Rookie Stephen Curry showed some interesting stuff in his first
season in the NBA, as he isn’t simply another one-dimensional offensive
shooter player, he has also some playmaking abilities and with him,
the Warriors have already shifted gears and turn to him instead of
Monta Ellis for the future.
Despite all the struggles, the Warriors were a “consistent” team
during the regular season, but for the bad reasons as after winning 6
games in October/November, they have won 3, 4, 4, 4 and 5 games in the
following 5 months of the competition.
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 1st 103.5
Offense 15th 105.0
Defense 28th 108.5
Rebounds 30th -9.66
Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Stephen Curry, Charlie Bell, Jeremy Lin
SG: Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams
SF: Dorell Wright, Vladimir Radmanovic, Rodney Carney
PF: David Lee, Brandan Wright, Ekpe Udoh
C: Andris Biedrins, Louis Amundson, Dan Gadzuric
Now that Don Nelson is gone, the Warriors appointed Keith Smart as
their new head coach. Smart has been preaching an increased focus on
defense this year, he served the previous seven seasons as an assistant
coach for the Warriors, giving him the longest tenure of any assistant
coach in franchise history, so apparently he should know the personnel
that he will coach this season…
In just one year, the organization went from choosing Monta Ellis as
their “franchise player” to Stephen Curry. Everyone knew that Curry
would be an excellent shooter player because his shooting abilities are
really great, but Curry showed more than that in his rookie season: he
can pass and command the floor too!
After the All Star break, in which his role with the team was fully
consolidated, Curry averaged 22.1 points and 7.7 assists per game! He
shot 44% from three despite shooting almost six times per-game. He was
also third in the league in steals last year, averaging 1.9 per game!
Already in this summer, he was a key part of the Gold Medal winning Team
USA and I have pretty sure that this was a valuable experience for him
in terms of developing his character.
Monta Ellis is now playing at the Shooting Guard position – his
natural position by the way and last season he was able to play 64
games. Ellis was one of the best scorers of the league with his 25.5
points per game, while shooting a respectable mark of 45% and also
established a career high in assists (5.3 assists per game), so he
wasn’t that bad last season. However, no one benefited from the “Don
Nelson’ system” more than him. No player attempted more field goals per
game than Ellis last season with 22 Field Goals attempted per game!
Also no player in the league committed more Turnovers per game than
him: 3.8 TO/game! These two personal facets hurt him in his overall
value, so this year with a new Head Coach, this will be a test for
Ellis. Eventually, he will be involved in some trade speculation
through the season, so let’s see how he will handle the pressure.
With Curry and Ellis on the court, the Warriors have probably the
most explosive backcourt duo in the league, but quite possible the worst
defensive backcourt unit as well. The bread and butter of this
franchise has been trying to win by outscoring their opponents, but even
the well oiled Phoenix Suns couldn’t win it all at their prime nor the
Warriors will with this kind of combination.
David Lee was the biggest offseason addition for the Warriors and he
is coming off a season that saw him average 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds,
3.6 assists and 1.0 steals, while shooting 54.5% from the floor in New
York. Curiously Anthony Randolph is in New York, while Lee is in the
bay area so it will be nice to compare the career of these two players
with their new teams. The Warriors badly need an interior presence that
can assure some rebounds per game, but curiously Lee couldn’t avoid
the Knicks to be the 3rd worst rebounding team last season.
Nevertheless, Lee is a considerable improvement for the Warriors at the
Power Forward position and in an expected high tempo system his
numbers will always be great to monitor, however he is paying to be the
difference maker in the frontcourt, so his responsibilities are way
bigger right now.
One of the biggest reasons for the Warriors went from a bad to a
terrible rebounding team was the absence and the bad overall play from
the center Andris Biedrins. After posting three straight quality seasons
including a truly breakout season in the previous year, Biedrins
played only 33 games last season, but even when he was healthy his lack
of confidence was simply devastating to even watch. He averaged just
5.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game for the Warriors and
his lack of confidence was well notorious on his unbelievable FT% -
just 16% or 4-25 from the line!
With a new head coach and being reportedly healthy for this season,
Biedrins is primed to make a bounce back this year. With Lee at his
side, the Warriors have the potential to be a much improved rebounding
team this season and their competitiveness will depend on this.
The Warriors also added Dorell Wright in the free agency and he is
the expected to be the starter at the Small Forward position. Wright
averaged 7.1 points per game and 46% shooting in 71 games last year with
the Heat, but injuries have been a huge factor during his career. Now
playing in a friendlier player system, he can take advantage of it. On
the other side, “his” backup Reggie Williams was a pleasant surprise
last year. Williams played 24 games with the Warriors as a D-League
call-up last season and dropped 15.2 ppg on 50%, while grabbing 4.6
rebounds per game.
In an attempt to improve their toughness and defensive prowerness,
the Warriors drafted Ekpe Udoh with the 6th overall pick and potentially
his shot blocking and interior defense will help the team in the long
haul. Unfortunately, Udoh got injured and he is out of the competition
for several months.
The Warriors are in a rebuilding process with a new ownership, so
their future is quite uncertain. They have an exciting young player like
Stephen Curry to start the foundation, but you won’t find such
unbalanced roster like the Warriors have through the rest of the league.
When they are hot, they will be a dangerous team especially at home,
but if they can’t solve their rebounding and defensive problems, then
they will be eaten alive by the best teams in the league.